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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. ‘India, as a whole, must integrate disaster preparedness into its core system, starting from the ground-level.’ In light of the statement, discuss the role of Panchayati Raj institution (PRI) in effective Disaster management.(250 Words)

    06 Jan, 2022 GS Paper 3 Disaster Management


    • Start with writing briefly about challenges of disaster management in India.
    • Discuss the role of Panchayati Raj institution (PRI) in effective Disaster management.
    • Discuss the way forward.


    Disaster Management in India

    • Vulnerability to Disasters: India is the 10th most disaster-prone country in the world with 27 out of 28 States and all of the seven Union Territories being most vulnerable.
    • Inefficient SOPs: Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are virtually non-existent and even where such SOPs exist, the authorities concerned are unfamiliar with it.
    • Lack of Coordination: The States also suffer from inadequate coordination among various government departments and other stakeholders.
      • The Indian system for disaster management also suffers from the absence of an institutional framework at the Center/State/District level.
    • Poor Warning and Relief Systems: India lacks a proper early warning system.
      • Slow response from relief agencies, lack of trained/dedicated search and rescue teams and poor community empowerment are other important challenges.

    Role of PRIs in Disaster Management

    • Handling Disasters at Grass-root Level: The devolution of power and responsibilities to the panchayats will result in flexible and committed response at the grass- root level in the case of natural calamities.
      • Effective and Strong PRIs, working in harmony with the state government, will help tackle the disaster through early warning systems.
    • Ensuring Better Relief Operations: Local bodies being nearer to the people are in a better position to undertake relief tasks as they are more familiar to the requirements of the local people.
      • This ensures total transparency in working and usage of funds as in every disaster situation.
      • They can also be relied upon for undertaking day to day running of civic services, providing shelter and medical assistance to affected people etc.
    • Spreading Awareness and Gaining Cooperation: Local government institutions have grass root level contact with people and they can help effectively in spreading awareness and ensure people’s participation in fighting the crisis.
      • They are also ideal channels for NGOs and other agency's participation in the rescue and relief operations.

    Way Forward

    • Legal Backing for Disaster Management Programmes: It is crucial to include disaster management chapters in Panchayat Raj Acts and making disaster planning and spending a part of Panchayati Raj development plans and local-level committees.
      • This will ensure citizen-centric mapping and planning of resources.
    • Resource Availability and Self-Reliance: Local governance, local leaders and local communities, when empowered, respond to any disaster rapidly and effectively.
      • The local bodies require information and guidance and must have resources, capacities and systems in place to act with confidence, without waiting for instructions from above.
    • Shift in Disaster Management Paradigm: There is an urgent need for a shift from a risk mitigation cum relief-centric approach in disaster management into an integrated plan for economic development with social justice.
      • Early warning systems, preparedness, preventive measures and awareness among people are as much an important part of disaster management as is recovery planning, rehabilitation and other relief measures.
    • Collective Participation: Conducting regular, location-specific disaster-management programmes for the community and organising platforms for sharing best practices will strengthen individual and institutional capacities.
      • Assigning roles to individual members and providing them with the necessary skills can make such programmes more meaningful.
    • Financial Contributions from People: Financial contributions from the community should be encouraged through the establishment of community disaster funds in all gram panchayats.
      • It is imperative to make disaster resilience an inherent part of the community culture now more than ever.

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